PROMEDIO, a consortium for the management of environmental services in the province of Badajoz, is a public agency dedicated to the comprehensive management of environmental services comprising almost all local entities with less than 20,000 residents. Agreements signed by these municipalities allow nearly 350,000 residents to benefit from the various extra municipal services offered by the consortium, including a specialized paper and cardboard collection service.

Technological Challenge

In 2014, household waste generated in the 75 municipalities managed by PROMEDIO made up approximately 190,195.2 metric tons of urban-like waste. Of these, 186,638 tons were organic waste and 1,351.9 tons were light containers and cartons, making the light packaging contribution ratio 8.33 kg/resident per year. The remaining 2,175.3 tons were paper and cardboard, making the paper and cardboard contribution ratio 8.63 kg/resident per year.

PROMEDIO manages a total of 11,119 bins across the province altogether: 6,694 green bins for organic waste, 1,720 yellow bins for light containers and 2,705 blue bins for paper and cardboard. The capacity and type of bin used for collection varies according to the needs and characteristics of each municipality.

The geographical dispersion of the province of Badajoz, which is the largest province of Spain and has an area of 21,766 km², requires a selection of suitable locations for workshops as well as for organization and work distribution points.

Current planning for the collection of solid urban waste in Badajoz focuses on predefined routes based on experience, which results in unnecessary costs. Likewise, the equipment is underused and the quality of service offered to citizens can be improved. Overflowing bins cannot be identified and empty bins are often collected, two factors that not only cause additional cleaning costs but dissatisfaction among citizens.

Added to this issue is the challenge of providing the province of Badajoz with efficient, innovative and inexpensive management with the help of a tool that not only optimizes costs but also ensures excellent service that projects a good image to the public.

With the goal of further reducing costs and advancing toward continuous improvement, PROMEDIO plans to implement remote monitoring and to follow the level of waste in each bin in order to determine the efficiency of their current collection policy and gather data for undertaking optimization measures in their solid urban waste collection service.

Wellness Telecom Proposal

In response to the needs presented by PROMEDIO, Wellness Telecom proposes eGarbage, a two-fold solution that provides remote monitoring of bin fill level and urban solid waste collection service tracking.

Through the eGarbage system, PROMEDIO will access valuable information for potential service optimization in several areas:

  • Revision of collection routes (including route, number of bins and collection frequency) with a consequent reduction in fuel and human resources costs.
  • The launch of unplanned collection routes to meet peak waste disposal needs. Bin overflows can be prevented by tracking the fill level, thereby improving the quality of service perceived by the user.
  • Detection alerts for waste decomposition through temperature sensor installation.
  • Fire alarm capacity.
  • Improvement of collection service monitoring by recording incidents during the service as well as observing the level of waste in the bins before and after service.
  • Better public property placement: monitoring allows determination of typical bin fill rate in an area and to evaluate if a change in the number of bins that cover that area or a change of bin location is needed. This is an improvement of the quality of service perceived by the user in the case of increasing the number of bins and in cost reduction in the case of public property excess elimination.
  • Dynamic management of public property: by continuously monitoring the level of waste deposited in bins it is possible to establish seasonal patterns. This optimizes the management of public property, as it allows for the implementation of a seasonal moving bin policy from areas of low waste rates to those of higher waste rates.
  • Increased visibility of the service provider through publication of bin fill status and location data in web platforms and multiple channels (corporate web, cell phone, tablet …).

PROMEDIO and eGarbage

  1. In order to audit PROMEDIO’s current urban waste collection system and implement the necessary measures to achieve savings and improved service quality, Wellness Telecom proposed a project for monitoring 50 bins for 12 months.
  2. At the end of the project, the frequency of the selective weekly paper collection was found not to be optimal. In particular, the continued service analysis resulted in the following conclusions:
  • 55% to 60% of all paper bins are not collected weekly for lack of content. These bins require a collection frequency that has larger than weeklong wait periods.
  • 18% to 20% of these bins are collected with content below 40% to 50%. So, the collection is not performed at the optimum fill time.
  • 75 to 80% of the bins were collected at least once with content below this value.
  • Finally, 20% of the bins have a fill rate high enough to require collecting their contents weekly.

In conclusion, 3 types of bins were defined according to their fill rate and collection frequency:

  • Bins requiring weekly collection as they are consistently 75% to 80% full on the day of collection.
  • Bins that are collected weekly but whose content is not sufficient for such collection to be optimal.
  • Bins that do not have enough content on a weekly basis and are collected every two weeks.

From these findings, Wellness Telecom proposed the following measures to PROMEDIO:

  • Identify a list of bins (between 7 and 10) that need to be collected weekly due to a higher service demand. Locate collection sites geographically and enhance service availability, with additional bins in nearby locations, that allows for collection every 15 days.
  • The rest of the bins should be collected every two weeks.

After taking these steps, it will be possible to proceed with revising collection routes and frequency, which is projected to result in significant savings in fuel and human resources required for the provision of this service.

These actions would not affect the quality of service perceived by the citizen because cases of overflowing bins that would require hiring additional urban cleaning services will actually be prevented by continuing the constant monitoring of bin fill level.

The adoption of this policy has a positive impact on the management of the service in two areas: from a quantitative point of view, the anticipated savings in fuel are of about 5000 liters per year and the reduction of workforce is between 40% and 50% when switching weekly collection to biweekly collection; from a qualitative point of view, the most noticeable effect is the increase in citizen satisfaction and improvement in the quality and efficiency of service.

“Within the proposed solution by the Wellness Telecom Group, a highly valued element by PROMEDIO’s Technical Services is the application tool designed for controlling and monitoring the work. ” states Álvaro Jiménez, PROMEDIO manager. “It’s a very intuitive and simple tool in handling and interpreting data from monitoring the actions taken by the company collecting and updating fill levels, filtering for example those special bins that are of interest at the time or according to specific needs.”

“We are currently evaluating the proposals outlined by the eGarbage application: expanding the provision of bins at various points, modifying the locations and frequency of the routes studied.” The executive explains. “With the right solution, adapted to waste and collection types analyzed in the project, collection frequency could be modified from weekly to once every 10 or 15 days. This rate, which is currently under study, will be defined without the disruption of the quality of service, leading to associated cost reductions mainly in fuel and personnel.”

EGarbage, an ally in optimization of waste collection services

“With the eGarbage project developed by the consortium and Wellness Telecom, we have sought economic and technical optimization of collection by monitoring fill levels in a series of bins, namely Double Hook with 3,000 liters of capacity intended for the collection of paper and cardboard waste, the most suitable for control and monitoring.Álvaro Jiménez recalls.

“The experience and results will lead PROMEDIO to assess the cost of implementing this project in all bins that are compatible with this fill monitoring system. These results, if carried out, will be used for future planning of service and bidding, with the goal of cost reduction without loss of quality, which ultimately will affect each and every one of the residents of the municipalities managed by PROMEDIO. “ the manager states.